Sometimes I get the distinct feeling that football isn’t real at all – but is just made up.
I mean, we have got through to the quarter final of the Euro Cup – which is further than our recent rivals Chelsea and Liverpool, and the same as Manchester United.
We went out when playing a reserve team, against what is considered by many to be the best side in the world, with the best player in the world on top form. The player in our team who can score four in a game (Arshavin) was out injured, with many of our other stars. We went down 6-3 over two games – not the result I wanted, but not so bad that I have to put my head in a bucket or call for the manager’s resignation.
At the end of the matches the Manchester United manager was left issuing almost racist commentaries (“typical Germans” etc) while we handled the match with dignity. Their top players were all our there doing their stuff. Ours were not. These things all add to the contrast.
(I say “almost racist”, because as I understand the law in the UK, it is not racist to comment on a person’s nationality in a demeaning manner, but it is to comment on their race outside their nationality. I might be wrong on this). Either way it is not very pleasant but it is endemic in football. “Like all Spaniards he is lazy” was one I heard recently from a BBC summarizer.
Meanwhile in the league we are within 3 points of the other two clubs, and still fighting for top spot. I think we are on an 8 game run in the league in which we have won 7 and drawn 1.
In terms of our three years of persistent injuries, were are now even catering with that, and I think this summer will see two big name signings and, as I pointed out the other day, four or five players moving up to being first team options, rather than squad players. That’s what comes from having a squad of youngsters – they get better each year.
But this is not enough for some and I have to say I really don’t get it, simply because I can’t get inside their heads.
Maybe some are like the people who go for the 419 scams – the ones that say, hello I have been given $24 billion to get out of Nigeria and if I can just have your bank details you could help me move the money and take your 10% cut.
Maybe their view is that there really is a way of picking up £2 billion just by giving someone your bank details. If so, I don’t really get it. If this approach worked in football then Chelsea would have won the league every year. They didn’t – football is more complex than that.
I say this because there seems to be a lack of linked up logic in the arguments that look at this season and say, “It’s not good enough”. It is as if reality has somehow dropped through a whole in the floor and there is a belief that no matter how much other clubs are willing to bankrupt themselves in the short term, or put themselves in positions where Uefa will say, you can’t have a licence to play in the Champ League, that we ought to win the League without breaking sweat.
It is as one is walking down the street and sees a crook who has just stolen 100 million pounds, and one says, “I am a failure because I don’t have all that money”. No, the fact is that you are an honest citizen and the crook is not.
The simple facts are
a) that most of the EPL clubs will not qualify under the new regs to be allowed in the Champ League
b) that most clubs are not sustainable, and will eventually go bust if they can’t find a big time buyer
c) that the experience of Liverpool and Man U where the fans have turned against the owners shows other prospective owners that maybe buying football teams isn’t all sweetness and light. I certainly think that this is putting off new buyers.
d) that there is no guarantee that with all the money in the world you can buy the top spot in any competition.
e) that the financial madness has now visited Spain, where most of the clubs are in trouble.
Let’s consider Man U just for a moment. Clearly the year on year triumph that Sir Alex F Word wants to see is not going according to plan. The sale of their top player last year without all that money being available for further transfers was a surprise to some, but predicted by others.
The fact is that the club needs new players but does not have them coming up through the ranks and the owners are not releasing new funds to buy – hence the manager’s comments about players being overpriced, and there being no real new talent out there.
All we have to do is keep going and we will be sailing ahead of the rest of the pack because we have not joined the crooks and the con men.
Last night my eldest daughter Catherine gave birth to my fifth grandchild, Imogen Alice. Even if I couldn’t make an argument such as the one in this article, I’d still feel a lovely warm glow inside. The fact that I can means I can feel wonderful about my children and my grandchildren, and rather good about the lesser matter of my football club.
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